Dog food: diy or buy, still keeping it budget-savvy

A few months back, I introduced my German Shepherd Dog to a DIY homemade meal plan in an attempt to save on his food while also serving him food that’s nutritious for him. I started him off with chicken but noticed that he itched a lot during and I never really thought to suspect the chicken that may be causing his itch. I did a little research online and found that some dogs are indeed allergic to chicken. So rather than prolonging his agony, and having an expensive allergy testing done to see what food he is allergic to – which I have no funding for – I switched him to another meat. I chose turkey because it was cheaper than beef or fish, both of which are also good choices for him.

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My workout buddy

When deciding whether to make homemade dog food or buy pre-package, consider these:

The cost is definitely a factor for me. I have a big boy and he eats a lot. My monthly dry food expenditure for him prior was at around $60. Once he is tired of the food, I have to switch him out to a different flavor and/or brand or add something else to it to make it more enticing, which increases the monthly cost. The pre-packaged frozen food was a little bit too pricey for me, which is why I decided to make his food myself.

As the months progress, time became a factor too because whole turkey, which is the cheapest form turkey comes packaged in in the meat department, also comes frozen, most of the time. I have to thaw the turkey out in the fridge for at least 3 days and then cook it in the oven for at least 2.5 hours, depending on the size. There is also cooling time, picking the meat off the bone time, and packing time involved. This make is difficult when I’m crunched for time because I didn’t know I run out of food. I’m not the only one who feeds him. 

Cost + Time are my two biggest factor because I would love to save on his food whenever possible so I make the time. I’ve been pretty lucky that Shady Brook Farms frozen turkeys are typically $0.99/lb regular price at the military commissary, and just slightly more expensive else where. Butterball ground turkey comes at about $6.24/3-lbs regular price at Walmart. I get ground turkey when I am in a rush because it comes fresh/thawed for faster cooking. Lidl currently has 93% lean ground turkey on sale at $1.89/lb. (I don’t get paid to mention these company, it’s just what selling in our area.)

Space is also another factor. This past week, Shady Brook Farm frozen whole young turkey were $0.49/lb at the commissary and as much as I love to take advantage of this low price, I have no space in my freezer or fridge to do so. Max I can have is 3, two thawing in my tiny hand-me-down fridge in the garage and one in the freezer. On top of that, once the turkey is ready to be individually packed, I need space to store his meals in the fridge. Note: Target has a 70% off Honeysuckle whole frozen turkey in their Cartwheel available for download currently. 

Portions is another factor to take in consideration. When I took my GSD to the doctor for emergency care – his face swelled up and was having a hard time breathing from a possible bug bite – he weighed 80 pounds. A few months back before that, he weighed 97 pounds. The doctor was not too concerned once I told him I switched him to a homemade food diet; however, I did start to question whether I was feeding him enough.

So, I increased his meat percentage to 50% and increased the total food measurement to 3 cups per meal with vegetables factored in, a total of  6 cups/day, twice the amount of dry food he was on. This is where we are at today. You can imagine the cost increase of this as well.

Not going to lie, his monthly food expenditure now exceeds his prior monthly expense on dry food despite my efforts. Would I go back to dry food? Probably not because he probably won’t eat it having eaten human grade food. Would I start buying prepackaged frozen food? I’m still on the maybe on that. Hey, if the price is right I’ll give it a try; but, at the rate my GSD eats, it’s unlikely it’s a sustainable option for me.

My current dog food monthly expense

The amount varies due to the meat but a 15 lb. whole turkey yields approximately 6 days worth of meat for my GSD, which roughly translate to $90/month food expense with vegetables factored in, or on the current turkey sale price, it’s $53/month w/ vegetables. I really wish I can take advantage of the current turkey sale price but you know, the rest of my fam got to eat too. haha. They each have their own cravings and dislikes.

Tips to continue to save if going on the DIY Dog Food Journey

  • Buy Frozen Vegetables. It’s easier and quite possibly cheaper most days. The 1st time I visited Wegman’s, the butternut squash were $0.79/bag. I tell you, my GSD eats as well as the rest of my family members.
  • Buy items on sale whenever possible. Always be on a lookout. Husband is trying to talk me into buying a freezer to store seafood more available in the summer season for winter consumption. I’m not sure this is needed though.
  • Compare prices. I compare the prices between fresh and frozen or one grocery vs another and make a list where it is cheaper either on sale or regular price. And I hit the store on my way home from another errand. It’s time consuming, yes!  But it helps. I have not tried ordering groceries online; but some stores do offer it and there are certain promotions for that as well for additional savings. It may be worth checking out.
  • Enlist the eyes of your family and friends. Just let them know to give you a heads up when items you use go on sale. A simple text will suffice. Or start a group on Facebook with your local friends to give each other private space to share your bargain finds at which stores. Just be mindful that sale items/prices switch out midweek for most grocery stores.
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He loves his soccer ball. An excellent goalie!

Final Words

Just like couponing, if I want to save, I have to put the time and effort. There’s no roundabout in doing it. Just a quick comparison, on Chewy.com, Tylee’s Human-Grade Turkey Recipe Frozen Dog Food is $39.99 for 6-lb. of food. If I can afford this, I may actually just buy; however, I can not afford it at this time. A 3-lb fresh ground turkey at Walmart is $6.24 or at $0.49/lb sale price, a 15- lb. frozen whole turkey is $7.35. Both come with additional work and expenses no doubt- gas, electric, storage containers, etc. Just how much is your time worth? Once you figure that out, then decide which route to pursue.

Until next time.

Mabuhay!

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